NEW YORK -- New Yorkers railed Sunday against a utility that has lagged behind others in restoring power two weeks after the superstorm that socked the region, criticizing its slow pace as well as a dearth of information.
At least 150,000 people in New York and New Jersey remained without power Sunday, including tens of thousands of homes and businesses that were too damaged to receive power at all. More than 8 million lost power during the storm, and some during a later nor'easter.
The lack of power restoration for a relative few in the densely populated region at the heart of the storm reinforced Sandy's fractured effect on the area: tragic and vicious to some, merely a nuisance to others.
Perhaps none of the utilities have drawn criticism as widespread, or as harsh, as the Long Island Power Authority. More than 60,000 of the homes and businesses it serves were still without power Sunday, and another 55,000 couldn't safely connect even though their local grid was back online because their wiring and other equipment had been flooded. It would need to be repaired or inspected before those homes could regain power, LIPA said.
Customers told of calling LIPA multiple times a day for updates and getting no answer, or contradictory advice.
"I was so disgusted the other night," said Carrie Baram of Baldwin Harbor, who said she calls the utility three times a day. "I was up till midnight but nobody bothered to answer the telephone."
Baram, 56, said she and her husband, Bob, go to the mall to charge their cellphones and for Bob, a sales manager, to work. They trekked to her parents' house to shower. At night, they huddle under a pile of blankets and listen to the sound of fire engines, which Baram assumes are blaring because people have been accidentally setting blazes with their generators.
"It's dark," said an audibly exasperated Baram, "it's frightening, and it's freezing."
LIPA has said it knows that customers aren't getting the information they need, partly because of an outdated information technology system that it's is updating.
"'They're working on it, they're working on it' -- that would be their common response," Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said Sunday, describing LIPA's interaction with his office.
He said LIPA had failed to answer even simple questions from its customers and that Sandy's magnitude wasn't an excuse.